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青青子衿,悠悠我心。但为君故,沉吟至今

Here:

子,对对方的尊称

子 implicitly implies the poem is addressing a man. The poem talks about how a lady misses a man. I just wonder if there is a corresponding word for Chinese. (i.e. what would you replace 子 by, if it were talking about a woman?

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1  
Does a native speaker's opinion make sense? The first sentense doesn't mention the lover to be missed is a male person; 子 at here means "you". The reason why it's different than appearances in other references is it's making a "dual" with 我. This is common in 诗经, where this poem comes from. –  Yvon Aug 13 at 5:38

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The equivalent of for women is also .

【清·張自烈·正字通】子部:女子亦稱子

Examples from Old Chinese texts:

【孟子·告子下】逾東家牆而摟其處子,則得妻,不摟,則不得妻,則將摟之乎?

  • The Works of Mencius: "Breaking into your landlord's house and harass the virgin girl gets you a wife; refrain from harassing and you don't get a wife. Does that mean you would do it?"

【詩經·國風·周南·桃夭】桃之夭夭,灼灼其華;之子于歸,宜其室家!

  • The Classic of Poetry: "Forests are green and flowers are red; a girl is marrying, and she'll make her new family happy."

In ancient Chinese, either meant "unmarried woman" or "you". The character for the latter usage became , but is still printed as in many modern publications of ancient works.

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In addition, "女子" means women and children in Classical Chinese. –  wuyefeibao Aug 12 at 17:52
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I also want to point that the difference between 汝(less formal) and 子(more formal) is formality, not gender –  無色受想行識 Aug 12 at 22:15

In general, it is 女.

There are books such as 女訓 (Advice for Women) and 烈女傳 (Biographies of Notable Women).

Also, 子 in 青青子衿 explicity referring to the lady's lover (where the whole sentence means her lover's green collar) , instead of referring to a man.

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子 also means son, does that implies the lady's lover is a male? –  user3919509 Aug 12 at 14:52
    
Depends on it's usage. For example, 女子 means girl but 兒子 means son –  Alex Aug 12 at 15:24
    
@user3919509 yes, it implicitly means male. 子 here implicitly means 'you' (male). I am not so sure if a substitution with ' 女' works here. –  Lost1 Aug 12 at 17:19

Re:...if it is talking about a woman?

Seems like this would be 女.

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@user3919509 yes, it implicitly means male. 子 here implicitly means 'you' (male). I am not so sure if a substitution with ' 女' works here. –  Lost1 Aug 12 at 17:20
    
@Lost1 - Sorry I don't follow your comment. It seems to be on the wrong post. But, unless I misunderstand your request, you are asking for the single character for a woman (not a male). If you need something different, please modify the original question for clarity. –  Tommie C. Aug 12 at 17:24

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